I grieved not, Usna's sons beside;
But long, without them, lags the day: Their royal sire no guest denied;
Three lions from Cave Hill were they.
Three dragons bred in Mona's fort
Are dead: to them from life I go;
Three chiefs who graced the Red Branch Court, Three rocks, who broke the rush of foe.
O loved by many a British maid!
O swift as hawks round Gullion's peak! True sons of king, who warriors swayed, To whom bent chiefs in homage meek.
No vassal look those champions wore; Full grief is mine that such should die! Those sons, whom Cathbad's daughter bore; Those props, who Cualgne's[FN#45] war held high.
[FN#45] Pronounced Kell-ny.
Three bears of might, to war they came; From Oona's walls, like lions, burst; Three hero-chiefs, who loved their fame; Three sons, on Ulster's bosom nursed.
Twas Aife[FN#46] reared them; 'neath her yoke A kingdom bowed, and tribute brought; They propped the war, when armies broke, Those foster-sons, whom Scathach[FN#47] taught.
The Three, who once from Bohvan's skill All feats have learned that heroes know; King Usna's glorious sons! 'tis ill That these afar from me should go.
That I should live, with Naisi dead,
Let none such shame believe of me;
When Ardan's life, when Ainnle's fled, But short my life I knew would be.
Great Ulster's king my hand had won;
I left him, Naisi's love to find;
Till Naisi's funeral rites be done, I wait a little while behind.
This widowed life no more I'll bear; The Three rejoiced, when toil they faced; Where'er 'twas found, the war they'd dare, And proffered fight with joy embraced.
A curse on Cathbad's wizard spell!
'Twas Naisi's death! and I the cause! None came to aid that king, who well To all the world might grant his laws.
[FN#46] Pronounced Eefa.
[FN#47] Pronounced Ska-ha.
O man, who diggest low the grave,
And from my sight my love would hide, Make wide the tomb; its room I crave, I come to seek my hero's side.
Great load of hardship I'd endure with joy, If yet those heroes my companions were; No lack of house or fire could then annoy, No gloom I'd know with them, nor aught of care.
Ah! many a time each shield and guardian spear To make my couch have piled those noble Three: O labouring man, their grave who diggest here, Their hardened swords above well set should be.
The hounds of all the Three their masters lack, Their hawks no quarry leave, nor hear their call; The three are dead, who battle's line held back Who learned their skill in Conall Cernach's hall!
Their hounds I view; from out my heart that sight Hath struck a groan; behind their leashes trail, 'Twas mine to hold them once, and keep them tight;, Now slack they lie, and cause me thus to wail.
Oft in the desert I and they have strayed, Yet never lonely was that desert known For all the Three a grave to-day is made, And here I sit, and feel indeed alone.
I gazed on Naisi's grave, and now am blind, For naught remains to see; the worst is spent; My soul must leave me soon, no help I find, And they are gone, the folk of my lament.
'Twas guile that crushed them: they would save my life And died therefor; themselves three billows strong: Ere Usna's children fell in cruel strife, Would I had died, and earth had held me long!
To Red-Branch Hall we made our mournful way; Deceitful Fergus led; our lives he stole; A soft sweet speech indeed he'd learned to say, For me, for them was ruin near that goal.
All Ulster's pleasures now are nothing worth I shun them all, each chief, each ancient friend; Alone I sit, as left behind on earth, And soon my lonely life in death shall end.
I am Deirdre, the joyless,
For short time alive,
Though to end life be evil,
'Tis worse to survive.
And, after she had made this lament, Deirdre seated herself in the tomb, and she gave three kisses to Naisi before that he was laid in his grave; and with heaviness and grief Cuchulain went on to Dun Delga. And Cathbad the Druid laid a curse upon Emain Macha to take vengeance for that great evil, and he said that, since that treachery had been done, neither king Conor nor any other of his race should hold that burg.
And as for Fergus, the son of Rossa the Red, he came to Emain Macha on the morrow after the sons of Usnach had been slain. And, when he found that they had been slain, and that his pledge had been dishonoured, he himself, and Cormac the Partner of Exile, king Conor's own son, also Dubhtach, the Beetle of Ulster, and the armies they had with them, gave battle to the household of Conor; and they slew Maine the son of Conor, and three hundred of Conor's people besides. And Emain Macha was destroyed, and burned by them, and Conor's women were slain, and they collected their adherents on every side; the number of their host was three thousand warriors. And they went away to the land of Connaught, even to Ailill the Great, who was the king of Connaught at that time, and to Maev of Croghan, and with them they found a welcome and support. Moreover Fergus and Cormac the Partner of Exile and their warriors, after that they had come to the land of Connaught, never let pass one single night wherein reavers went not forth from them to harry and burn the land of Ulster, so that the district which men to-day call the land of Cualgne was subdued by them; and from that in the after-time came between the two kingdoms much of trouble and theft; and in this fashion they spent seven years, or, as some say, ten years; nor was there any truce between them, no, not for one single hour.
And while those deeds were doing, Deirdre abode by Conor in his household for a whole year after the sons of Usnach had been slain. And, though it might have seemed but a small thing for her to raise her head, or to let laughter flow over her lips, yet she never did these things during all that time. And when Conor saw that neither sport nor kindness could hold her; and that neither jesting nor pleasing honour could raise her spirits, he sent word to Eogan the son of Durthacht, the lord of Fernmay;[FN#48] as some tell the story, it was this Eogan who had slain Naisi in Emain Macha. And after that Eogan had come to the place where Conor was, Conor gave command to Deirdre that, since he himself had failed to turn her heart from her grief, she must depart to Eogan, and spend another space of time with him. And with that she was placed behind Eogan in his chariot, and Conor went also in the chariot in order to deliver Deirdre into Eogan's hand. And as they went on their way, she cast a fierce glance at Eogan in front of her, and another at Conor behind her; for there was nothing in all the world that she hated more than those two men. And when Conor saw this, as he looked at her and at Eogan, he said: "Ah Deirdre! it is the glance of a ewe when set between two rams that thou castest on me and on Eogan!" And when Deirdre heard that, she sprang up, and she made a leap out of the chariot, and she struck her head against the stony rocks that were in front of her, and she shattered her head so that the brains leapt out, and thus came to Deirdre her death.
[FN#48] The Irish is Fernmag; written Fearnmhuidh in the late manuscript of this part of the tale.
This is the Tree of their race, and an account of the kinships of some of the Champions of the Red Branch, which is given here before we proceed to speak of the Deeds of Cuchulain:
'Twas Cathbad first won Magach's love, and arms around her threw; From Maelchro's loins, the Battle Chief, his princely source he drew; Two, more in love she knew, of these the wrath was long and dread, Fierce Rossa, named the Ruddy-Faced, and Carbre, thatched with red.
To all the three were children born, and all with beauty graced, To Cathbad, and to Carbre Red, and Rossa Ruddy-faced; A gracious three indeed were they to whom she gave her love, Fair Magach, brown the lashes were that slept her eyes above.
Three sons to Rossa Ruddy-faced as children Magach bore; To Carbre sons again she gave, the count of these was four; And three white shoots of grace were hers, on these no shame shall fall; To Cathbad children three she bare, and these were daughters all.
To Cathbad, who in wizard lore and all its arts had might, Three daughters lovely Magach bore, each clothed in beauty white; All maids who then for grace were famed in grace those maids surpassed, And Finuchoem,[FN#49] Ailbhe twain he named, and Deithchim named the last.
[FN#49] Pronounced Finn-hoom, Ail-vy, and Die-himm.
To Finnchoem, wizard Cathbad's child, was born a glorious son, And well she nursed him, Conall wild, who every field hath won; And Ailbhe glorious children bare in whom no fear had place, These Ardan, Ainnle, Naisi were, who came of Usnach's race.
A son to Deithchim fair was born, a bright-cheeked mother she; She bore but one: Cuchulain of Dun Delga's hold was he: Of those whom Cathbad's daughters reared the names full well ye know, And none of these a wound hath feared, or therefore shunned a foe.
The sons of Usnach, who like shields their friends protected well, By might of hosts on battle-field to death were borne, and fell; And each was white of skin, and each his friends in love would hold, Now naught remains for song to teach, the Third of Griefs is told.